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Uganda, 7 March 2015: Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator – International Women’s Day 2015

By Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa- Onochie, United Nations Resident Coordinator

This is the time to uphold women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part.

Thank you all for helping to realize these achievements for women and indeed, fundamentally, for man and mankind.

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day twenty years after the 1995 fourth world conference on women in Beijing. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

All the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action remain as deeply relevant to our efforts as they were in 1995 to our efforts to achieve gender equality and women empowerment. Today we applaud what we have achieved since the Beijing conference.

On behalf of the UN, I would like to congratulate your Excellency and the people of Uganda for what you have achieved in implementing the Beijing Program of Action in the last 20 years. We applaud the increased enrollment of girls at primary school level and increased literacy rates among women from 45% in 1995 to 65% now. We also celebrate the increased number of women in decision making positions and in politics. For example, the number of women parliament rose from 14% in 1989-1996 to 35% in 2011. Your Excellency, we also appreciate Government efforts in ensuring that gender targets are included in national planning frameworks and enactment of laws and strategies to curb violence against women. Despite these achievements the country is bedeviled by high teenage pregnancy, child marriage and maternal mortality. We still have persistent trends of patriarchal patterns of behavior and stereotypes in relations to the role of women in private and public spheres.

We cannot move backwards, we must keep moving forward. It is what we owe to Ugandan women fighting to provide for their families and to lead meaningful lives.

As UN member states negotiate the new post-2015 development agenda, gender quality has been identified as one of the sustainable development goals which will stimulate social and economic development in all countries. The post-2015 development agenda offers a real opportunity to drive lasting change for women’s rights and equality, and to bring transformative change in women’s and men’s lives.

The Uganda National Development Plan 2015/2020 has also ensured that all the pillars have incorporated gender perspectives. The UNDAF has also prioritized gender as strategic area Together with all of you, the United Nations, and the leadership of the government of Uganda we can make gender equality a reality in Uganda by 2030.

Today we are also launching the HeForshe campaign as one of the national activities to commemorate International Women’s Day. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality initiated by the UN to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. The campaign’s premise is that gender inequality is not a women’s issue but an issue that affects everyone, and that achieving equality will benefit both women and men - socially, politically and economically.

Today on International Women’s Day and every day, let us individually and collectively pledge to do all we can to promote and protect women’s rights so that every girl and woman can live free of violence and discrimination.



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